Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Third Trimester

Sorry I've been bad at updating this recently.  Part of it is that I just don’t have much time, but it’s also that I haven’t found a lot of time for it. I haven’t had a lot of time because, during the week in the start of this new trimester, I have been incredibly busy. My first trimester was a difficult workload, the second trimester was difficult because of all kinds of things that were going on outside of school, and this trimester will be very difficult because of, again, the workload and, also the third trimester is the shortest. The first trimester was about 12 weeks long, the second was 10 (less with the time that I wasn’t here for) and the third is only about 8 weeks. I think it may even be shorter for the seniors, but I don’t know for sure. Things aren’t always communicated very well to us from the administration, which can be pretty frustrating.

So, this trimester I have a Philosophy class and Physics with Segundo Bachillerato, a few English reviews and a workshop with Tercero Ciclo, several classes with Segundo Bachillerato to review Biology, Chemistry, Math, to prepare them for the University next year, the same gym classes, and English with Andrea.

I have been enjoying teaching Philosophy so far because it allows me to talk about some interesting things that aren’t Science, Math or English, which are either full of cognates, numbers or English. This class has added some variety into my teaching and the vocab I’m learning. Physics has been going decently well, although it looks like it will get pretty boring and difficult soon enough when I stop talking about Thermodynamics and stop burning things in lab, and have to start covering things like light, magnetism and electrical currents, for which I don’t really have many lab ideas.

I’m also going to talk to the sisters soon about the idea I had months ago to move the school away from the IHER radio programs and make the school a more self-sustaining private school. Right now we use that radio program and their books, which don’t prepare them at all for anything other than memorization. It’s a shame that many of these students could perform on such a high level, and yet they’re still using this program, which is designed for students in the middle of nowhere who don’t have teachers. Here, however, they have teachers, time set aside for classes, and physical resources the majority of students here probably never have access to. If I could convince the sisters to go along with this, I would try to start with the last two years of High School level (the Bachilleratos) to gradually phase it in, because it’s going to be difficult to find materials like books and more lab materials, and then develop curriculums and instruct the Honduran teachers about how it is going to work. The good thing is that every year there will be new volunteers from Stonehill to carry on the work. The bad part is that I already mentioned something like this in the beginning of the year to Sister Marta, and it seems like some of the nuns in the community are really afraid of the effort and the change that this would require.

I will keep updating when I can about the progress I make on this front. In the meantime, if anyone were able to find ANY kind of lab equipment (thermometers, hot plates, glassware, anything), especially those of you returning to schools this fall which may have things lying around, I would be eternally grateful. Also, old textbooks--Bio, Chem, Physics, Math--even in English, would be extremely useful for future classroom development. The future Extension Volunteers would definitely be able to use resources like these, even if the girls can’t use them. We’re kind of in a void of information here because all we have is what we brought in our memories, some resources we brought or were sent, and the occasional internet connection. Again, if anyone could help us out a little, we would all be extremely grateful.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quick Updates

1. We started our third trimester a little more than a week ago.  Will post more on this later (now that I say it out loud hopefully I will do it and stop slacking on updating the blog).
2. I sold a pizza for 100 Lempira to the corner store two weekends ago, so that they could sell it to the people coming in on the buses.  First step to opening my Guaimaca pizza parlor!
3. We bought a chick on Saturday.  Cassie and I were biking past a hardware store and she saw a cage full, then kind of bet me that I wouldn't.  Of course, I took the bet and we now have another family member, who is (almost) the messiest in the house.  It's definitely the loudest...we better get some damned good eggs from this thing.
4. We still have two dogs, the "exchange" that was supposed to happen two months ago when the puppy from the farm was brought to the house hasn't happened, and doesn't look like it will happen.  Ranger's looking pretty depressed because we like Ceniza a lot more.
5. The novena for the patron saint of the parish started this past weekend, and there will be a mass in a different Barrio (neighborhood) every night.  So far they've been really pretty, especially with everyone working together to pull it off.
6. The town party is starting this coming weekend, which will be interesting.  We've heard a few accounts of the dancing, drinking and singing that happens in the park almost every night, all night.
7. The Day of the Indian (a day of national cultural pride here) was a couple of weeks ago, and was really a beautiful celebration.  Each class made their own costume and chose their representative to compete for the title of the Prettiest Indian.  Each class also made traditional food, so it was a pretty awesome day of learning more about their culture and eating great food.  Also, the best part was that my student, Lilian, who had an extremely difficult second trimester with a lot of illnesses and some family trouble, won the title.  My whole class was so happy, I have some great pictures of them screaming their heads off.

That's all I can think of now.  Sorry if it's been disappointing reading lately.  My thoughts and heart were with everyone at the clamboil this past weekend!

Just remembered:
8. The opening of a new supermarket in town, owned by Walmart.  The only thing that's worth buying there is the beer, which is about half the price of the beer in other places, and the occasional fruit and veggies we want to use but can't find in the market or the back of someone's truck in the park (which usually only has seasonal and local produce).  The biggest advantage is that it's open later than the other stores, so if we need something before 7:00 we can now go there to pick it up.  This isn't an isolated case of development, however.  Even in just 7 months we've been here, we've seen a lot of development and construction around town.  Unfortunately, it's almost all been funded with drug money, remittances from the US, or by Walmart, as far as we know.  
9. Chris' bike was stolen from in front of the new supermarket, in the direct line of sight of the armed guard in the doorway.